It’s old news by now, but Café Ambrosia, known for its hospitality towards students and its tasty drinks, has closed its doors and boarded up its windows, apparently for good. Anyone who frequented Ambrosia can tell you that its many couches and tables were filled with studying students, but Ambrosia was more than just a great place to study. We seem to be shocked by the sudden closure, and once the grind of Spring Quarter begins, I know that we’ll be missing the couch-filled study haven that provided a welcome respite from the library. And the events that regularly occur in Ambrosia’s basement (like Sit and Spin’s stand up comedy) won’t be the same in any other venue.
My own love for Ambrosia dates back to my first day on Northwestern’s campus as a student, when I arrived early for pre-orientation and was taken to the Cafe by a Project Wildcat counselor. It was only then, over a delicious chilled chai, that I decided I might be happy at Northwestern after all. During reading and finals week, Ambrosia was my home base for highlighting all the chapters I hadn’t read throughout the quarter. I squeezed into the jam-packed basement to listen to friends strum melodically on their guitars, and almost every week, I met around tables with tea and muffins for book clubs and writing workshops. Ambrosia was a lot more than just any coffee place. It housed my friends and hopes and memories, and it will be missed.
I wish Ambrosia’s closing mirrored Juicy Campus’s, soon to be quickly replaced by an extremely similar establishment. Though Evanston is full of coffee places and bistro cafes with wireless internet, none of them are as hospitable to heart-to-hearts and cram sessions as Ambrosia. They lack the comfy couches, warm ambiance, and cozy familiarity of the place I’ve so often heard abbreviated to “Ambrozhe.” In this economy, which has been blamed for Ambrosia’s closing, I doubt that something similar will come along very quickly, if ever.
But while many of us seem to be distraught over Ambrosia’s untimely end (I’ve seen Gchat statuses changed to “RIP Ambrosia” and blogs about the sad demise), nobody seems to be actually doing anything about it. I only wish we had known that Ambrosia was struggling. I would have made an effort to stop buying bagels at Einstein’s or lattes at Starbucks in favor of the selection at Ambrosia, which provided a far better hang out locale than either of the aforementioned places. I can easily envision a student-run effort to bring more business to the cafe, which was opened with the intentions of catering to us in the first place. Unfortunately, the closure came without warning: no hikes in basement rental fees or visibly stronger efforts to encourage patrons to make more purchases.
The papers over the windows may be dispiriting, but if we as a campus truly care about Café Ambrosia’s closing, we should take a stand. It may seem nearly impossible or overly idealistic, but if we sign a petition urging Northwestern to buy the space Ambrosia once occupied, I think we might just have a chance. It may not be an issue of equality or social justice, but Ambrosia is a one-of-a-kind feature for our community, and if we let it go with nothing more than a “tweet” or transient status change — that would be a tragedy.